Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling's Lucy Garner has regretfully been forced to withdraw from the black and orange team's roster for the Aviva Women's Tour due to injuries sustained in a crash last weekend. The two-time junior World Champion was brought down in a crash in the early kilometres of the Keukens van Lommel Ladies Classic, in Herselt, Belgium, and sustained fractures to two ribs.
While the 21-year-old Briton is able to ride her bike, any sustained effort causes severe pain and she has taken the decision to withdraw.
"It's just one of those things," Garner conceded. "Obviously it was a really hard decision. I'd been looking forward to racing the Aviva Women's Tour ever since I've been part of Wiggle High5. It's such a big event, and a huge goal for the team, so to have been selected was really good for me because I know that a lot of the girls wanted to do it, and it's a really strong team going.
"My eyes were set on that, and then something like this happens…" she continued. "As an athlete all you want to do is race. I did actually go on the rollers this morning; just pedalling's okay, but when I have to get out of the saddle… Obviously I'm going to be moving about, I'm going to have to reach for my bottle, and I just don't know if it's worth doing it."
Aside from the pain and discomfort that Garner would doubtless feel during the race, the 21-year-old Briton is unwilling to risk letting down her teammates in what will be one of the biggest stage races of the year. Garner is also only too aware that any further crash could exacerbate what is already a nasty, debilitating injury.
"It is racing at the end of the day, and if I crashed again it could end up in something a lot worse that might put me out for the whole of the season," she reasoned. "So I think it's best for me to sit back, even though it's going to be really painful.
"I know that the girls will support the decision, and obviously [Wiggle High5 Team Manager Rochelle Gilmore] helped me to make the decision, and we think it's just best to let it go and move onto the next race.
"I'm still thinking of Nationals - it's a really big goal of mine - and if I can keep this condition going; I can still go out and do long rides at the moment, but it's just that intensity - that obviously the Women's Tour going to have. I've heard it's going to be really tough this year as well, with a lot of climbing, so that's probably not the best of the ribs either.
"It's a bit gutting because [younger sister] Gracie's going to be racing there too, so my Mum and Dad are going to come down and watch."
While the Aviva Women's Tour - which starts next Wednesday, the 15th of June - is now off Lucy Garner's programme, it is likely that she will take the start of the Giro del Trentino Donne, in Italy the following weekend.
While the Italian race is equally, if not more, hilly than the Aviva Women's Tour, it will mean that the 21-year-old will still be able to get some racing kilometres in her legs in a far lower pressure environment.
"I think that gives me a few more days to recover as well," Garner explained. "I really want to do a race again before Nationals, just to get in the peloton again. By then I should be feeling a bit better, and I'll have had a good week training, and I think that can really help with Nationals.
"I've looked at the course, and it going to be really hard, but I think it'll be good to do a bit of racing before Nationals. There won't be so much pressure on me as well.
"We had to be pretty quick making the decision, but I think we're not only doing what's best for me, but for the team as well," Garner concluded.
Garner's replacement in the Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling roster for the Aviva Women's Tour will be confirmed in due course.
England 6-Russia )
England defeated New Zealand 49-46 to level up the three-match Series at 1-1 heading into the deciding match on Wednesday morning.